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The Emperor Penguin Life Cycle - Arctic Animals

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Shawnte is an elementary school science educator and illustrator who studies various life cycles of animals.

The Emperor Penguin

Emperor penguins are the largest penguin species living in the arctic today. They are flightless and rely mainly on small fish and crustaceans like krill as their food source. The emperor penguin is also the only penguin species to breed during the winter time in the arctic. Adult emperor penguins have black dorsals and heads with white bellies and yellow breasts. One might say that the emperor penguin looks a bit like a person wearing a tuxedo from a distance!

Emperor penguin chicks are small with light fur around their bodies. A chick is usually around 11 ounces in weight at birth. Typically, chicks are born in to large groups known as penguin colonies.They rely on their parents to feed them regurgitated fish, squid and krill while they are young. These chicks are then kept warm inside of their parent's brood pouch during the coldest of weather.

Adult and chick penguin

Adult and chick penguin

Emperor Penguin Breeding

The average age that a penguin male and female begin to breed is around the age of 5 or 6. The male penguin pursues a female by displaying a sort of courtship ritual. This typically involves the male emperor penguin calling to the female and bobbing around in a 'dance' if you may. If the female penguin is impressed by the male, she will mate with him not long after.

Emperor penguins, along with most other penguins, are monogamous and tend to mate and reproduce with the same partner for their entire lives.

Male and female emperor penguins mating

Male and female emperor penguins mating

Laying and nesting an Egg

Like other similar large breeds of penguin, the emperor penguin can lay only 1 egg at a time. Generally, all of the breeding penguins will breed within a colony in the arctic. Unlike other birds, emperor penguins are unable to create nests during the harsh arctic winters. To prevent their eggs from freezing, emperor penguins place the egg within the nesting pouch between their legs, also known as a brood pouch. Both male and female penguins have one of these pouches in order to ensure their unborn's survival.

It is not uncommon for both male and female emperor penguins to take turns nesting the egg. once a female penguin lays her egg, she then passes it along to her male partner to care for while she is away. During this time, the father penguin does not eat for nearly two days in order to ensure the offspring's safety. It is very important that the egg does not break during incubation, as emperor penguins typically mate only once per year. Upon returning, the male penguin will then pass the egg along to the female penguin in order to hunt for food and resources.

Penguin Nesting Egg

Penguin Nesting Egg

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Hatching of the Penguin Egg

Once the mother penguin returns in July, she then transfers the egg from the father and places it in to her brooding pouch for the remaining incubation periods. Sometimes, the penguin hatches before the mother returns. Once the penguin chick has arrived, the father emperor penguin goes off to hunt for food for the new family. The mother penguin chews the food and spits it back up for the chick to eat. A baby penguin is too young to digest the food without it being chewed.

Since a baby chick has very thin feathers, it is prone to getting cold in the arctic weather. The mother penguin will then place her chick in to her brooding pouch to keep it warm. Once the chick is old enough, it will then be able to keep warm on its own.

Penguin Life Cycle

Additional Emperor Penguin Facts

  • The emperor is the largest of all 17 penguin species on Earth. It is native to arctic regions and is one of the few animals to Antarctica in the open ice.
  • Male and female emperor penguins are similar in size, averaging at around 122 cm in height and around 22 to 45 kg in weight.
  • Emperor penguins have the ability to dive to well over 500 meters deep in to water. Their bodies have adapted to the arctic weather so they are able to reduce both blood flow and metabolism in their non-essential organs to survive.
  • Emperor penguins are an extremely social species! They live among one another in large penguin colonies throughout the arctic. A colony can have as many as several thousand penguin residents!
  • Male and female penguins typically mate for life. Emperor penguins form relationships in a similar manner to humans.They are a monogamous species who are likely to mate with the same partner for their entire lifespan.



Animal Facts Guide

Purchase Penguin Life Cycle Clipart Set

Penguin Life Cycle Clipart Set For Download

Penguin Life Cycle Clipart Set For Download

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Shawnte

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